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Eastside Catholic's Answer and Affirmative Defenses

Eastside Catholic's Answer and Affirmative Defenses

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Response from Eastside Catholic School that addresses lawsuit filed by Mark Zmuda
Response from Eastside Catholic School that addresses lawsuit filed by Mark Zmuda

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Published by: National Catholic Reporter on Mar 07, 2014
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03/08/2014

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EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL’S ANSWER
PATTERSON
 
BUCHANAN
 
AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES - 1
319476
 
FOBES
 
&
 
LEITCH,
 
INC.,
 
P.S.
 
2112
 
Third
 
Avenue,
 
Suite
 
500,
 
Seattle
 
 
WA
 
 
98121
 
Tel.
 
206.462.6700
 
 
Fax
 
206.462.6701
 
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425 SUPERIOR COURT OF WASHINGTON FOR KING COUNTY MARK ZMUDA, Plaintiff, v. CORPORATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE d.b.a. THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SEATTLE, and EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL, Defendants.  No. EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL’S ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES COME NOW defendant EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL (“Eastside Catholic”), by and through its attorneys of record, and hereby submits this Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff Mark Zmuda’s (“Plaintiff”) Complaint. The numbered paragraphs in the below Answer are intended to correspond directly with the paragraph numbers in Plaintiff’s Complaint. Eastside Catholic denies Plaintiff’s conclusory allegations set forth in the Roman number heading descriptions in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
ANSWER I.
1. In answer to paragraph 1 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, the averments appear to call for legal conclusions and thus Eastside Catholic defers to the court. To the extent an answer is required, Eastside Catholic denies the same. Plaintiff’s claims touch on issues of the nature, extent, and administration of the religious ministry, including application of Canon law to the
 
 
EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL’S ANSWER
PATTERSON
 
BUCHANAN
 
AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES - 2
319476
 
FOBES
 
&
 
LEITCH,
 
INC.,
 
P.S.
 
2112
 
Third
 
Avenue,
 
Suite
 
500,
 
Seattle
 
 
WA
 
 
98121
 
Tel.
 
206.462.6700
 
 
Fax
 
206.462.6701
 
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425service of priests and clergy and seminarians, and, therefore, are barred from consideration and/or are not actionable in this forum pursuant to the mandates of the United States and Washington State Courts and additional provisions regarding separation of church and state,  pursuant to the Constitutional guarantees of the United States and of Washington, and pursuant to the religious exception.
II.
2. In answer to paragraph 2 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic denies the same. Eastside Catholic presented a job offer to Plaintiff while Plaintiff resided in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 3. In answer to paragraph 3 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of Plaintiff’s averments contained in that paragraph as they appear to be averments directed at co-defendant. 4. In answer to paragraph 4 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic admits the same.
III.
5. In answer to paragraph 5 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic admits that Plaintiff was hired to be Eastside Catholic’s vice principal in May of 2012 and that Plaintiff  began work as vice principal in July of 2012. Eastside Catholic also admits that Plaintiff worked as a coach for Eastside Catholic’s swimming team. 6. In answer to paragraph 6 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic admits that Plaintiff informed it that he was married to a man in November of 2013. Eastside Catholic was not aware that Plaintiff had a domestic partner at the time Plaintiff was hired as vice principal of Eastside Catholic. Furthermore, on July 25, 2012, Plaintiff explicitly identified his same-sex  partner as his “friend” on his emergency contact form filed with Eastside Catholic. On August 20, 2012, Plaintiff filled out an updated emergency contact form where he referred to his same-
 
 
EASTSIDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL’S ANSWER
PATTERSON
 
BUCHANAN
 
AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES - 3
319476
 
FOBES
 
&
 
LEITCH,
 
INC.,
 
P.S.
 
2112
 
Third
 
Avenue,
 
Suite
 
500,
 
Seattle
 
 
WA
 
 
98121
 
Tel.
 
206.462.6700
 
 
Fax
 
206.462.6701
 
12345678910111213141516171819202122232425sex partner as his “roommate.” As to any remaining averments contained in paragraph 6 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic denies the same. 7. In answer to paragraph 7 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Referendum 74 cited by Plaintiff speaks for itself, and Eastside Catholic denies any allegation or statement inconsistent with the plain language of the referenced Referendum. 8. In answer to paragraph 8 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of Plaintiff’s averments contained in that paragraph as Eastside Catholic is unaware of everything Plaintiff did or did not share while working for Eastside Catholic. On July 25, 2012, Plaintiff explicitly identified his same-sex partner as his “friend” on his emergency contact form filed with Eastside Catholic. On August 20, 2012, Plaintiff filled out an updated emergency contact form where he referred to his same-sex partner as his “roommate.” On, or about, January 31, 2013, Plaintiff volunteered that he was gay. As to any remaining averments contained in paragraph 8 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic denies the same. 9. In answer to paragraph 9 of Plaintiff’s Complaint, Eastside Catholic denies the same. In January of 2013, Eastside Catholic received concerns from parents and others regarding public photos that were posted on Plaintiff’s Facebook page that were inappropriate for a representative of the school and inconsistent with the Catholic faith-based values of the school. On January 31, 2013, representatives of Eastside Catholic met with Plaintiff to discuss the inappropriate content publicly displayed on Plaintiff’s Facebook page. During this meeting, Plaintiff volunteered that he was a gay man. Plaintiff also volunteered to remove his entire  profile from Facebook and Plaintiff did so after the meeting. Following the meeting, Eastside Catholic sent a letter to Plaintiff memorializing the meeting and reminding Plaintiff about the Catholic teachings that the school follows and that it expected Plaintiff and all faculty to follow. Specifically, Eastside Catholic stated in the letter that:

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